I see them all over where I live. People begging on the streets for money. I saw one today, that brought me back to a childhood memory.
I was 9 yrs old and had just gotten 20 dollars for my birthday. I put the money in my little purse and headed out one day, with my mom. We braved the streets of Reseda, California, to walk the stores and pick up a few things. I was hoping to find a few treasures for myself, as my mom did her weekly errand run. This was the real seedy part of town, so my mom held my hand tightly.
I saw this guy sitting against a building, with a sign next to him. "Will work for food"...it read. I remember feeling so sad for him. I wondered how someone could be that bad off, that they had to beg for food. As I passed him, I reached into my purse and pulled out my money. I turned to the man and walked over to him. He smelled so bad, I could hardly catch my breath. I knelt down and handed him my money. I remember his response and felt good about my decision. "Thanks Kid".
We entered the store that was across the street from where this man was. We picked up our items and walked back, the way we came. The same man I had given my birthday money to, was now celebrating, with a cold 6-pack of beer and cigarettes.
I was confused. I felt angry....I wanted to go over to him and ask him why....Why would he ask for food, and buy beer? I WANTED MY MONEY BACK! My mom quietly whisked me away...but told how proud she was of me. She told me that sometime people are so desperate for what they want, and sometimes ashamed, that they lie. She told me that doing what HE did was wrong, but doing what I did was right.
Looking back on that day, I feel I have learned that he may have not bought food with the money I gave him....but he filled his need. I made him happy.
I have never given money to strangers on the street again, but I look at them in a different way now. They may be asking for food....but truly be needing something else.
We tend to spend our lives, filling needs 'in the moment', which can create more negative results for us down the road. I was filling a need that day, of my own. An immediate gratification of doing something I thought was good. The beggar did the same thing. Filling an immediate "need" may make you feel good ...but is it the right thing to do?
Sometimes acting out of fear or desperation can lead us down a path of destruction. We end up worse off, than we were before. What I did that night wasn't wrong....I was being lead with my heart, and honestly wanted to help that man.
Do you live a life of fear and desperation? I know I do sometimes. I sometimes think that life will never get any better, so I have to do or get something RIGHT NOW. Then end up paying the double price of feeling guilty.
So today, Turn it around Tuesday asks you to think about the decisions you are making. Are you filling an immediate need...or a long term goal. There is nothing wrong with giving money to beggars on the street, if you are prepared for what could happen after that. :)
Have a great day !!